Author Archives: Stephen

It’s About Race & It’s About The Economy

Published / by Stephen

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A Mother Jones article (Novemeber / December 2018), “The Most Important Election of Our  Lives,” argues that Donald Trump’s clock is running out and this is no time for progressives to be timid about sayings so.

The “deplorables” may be forever out of reach to progressives, but does it matter? They always have been. The center right isn’t. and a cool-headed look at the best evidence suggests that most voters who fall into that camp won’t be turned off by a vigorous approach to either progressive values on race or progressive proposals for the economy. Needless to say, this is also the approach most likely to increase progressive turnout, especially among women and people of color who were most distressed by Trump’s victory in the first place.

Race & Immigration – Gallop

Gallup finds that a record high 75% of Americans say immigration is a good thing.

The highlights from this June 2018 report report that: Three-quarters of Americans think immigration is a good thing; 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree: 39% say immigration should be kept at present level, 28% say increased.

The Economy – Mother Jones

…Trump’s right-wing economic populism has gotten little traction. Economists overwhelmingly agree Trump’s trade war will hurt the economy, and the public is decidedly tepid about his tariffs; only 16% of Americans think they will help the economy. Last year’s tax cut for corporations and the wealthy has bombed as well. Unpopular from the start, the law is supported by barely more than a third of the voters.

 

 

Immigration — An Informed Fact-Based Approach

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From Sonia Nazario, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With His Mother,” is a board member of Kids in Need of Defense and a contributing NYT opinion writer.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans will like it. But it would be humane, it would adhere to the rule of law, and it would work.

I’m a Child of Immigrants. And I Have a Plan to Fix Immigration.

The Central Element of The Campaign -Trump’s Ethos

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Selective parts of the David Brooks / Mark Shields PBS interview from Friday October 19. Link to interview

David Brooks:

Well, I mean, I think the major damage Donald Trump is doing to the country is weakening the norms of decency and civility.

And if you don’t have those norms, it’s all dog eat dog. And so I don’t underestimate the harm that gets done.

I just observe that, since the first presidential debate, when he went after Carly Fiorina for the way she looked, and other people, those — the ethos of World Wide — the World Wide Wrestling Federation has been the ethos Donald Trump has played on, on the campaign trail.

And there is some bit of owning the libs, as conservative say, that the desire to offend is part of the fun of the thing. And, sometimes — I totally get Mark’s point. You got to try to maintain some sense of standards of how public officials are supposed to act with integrity.

But, sometimes, I feel manipulated when I do react, because that’s sort of what Donald Trump wants.

Mark Shields:

I want David to trust his own instincts, which are good.

(LAUGHTER)

Mark Shields:

No, I mean, but David touched on what I think is the central element of this campaign.

Are we going to have guardrails. Are we going to reestablish guardrails in this country as to what is right, what is wrong? And I think that to a great degree is what this election is about.

But I mean, let’s remind us — our listeners that Gianforte himself publicly apologized for what he did after it happened and accepted the court’s judgment.

Judy Woodruff:

David, health care, the Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, was working against Democrats. Now they’re trying to use it to their advantage.

Do you think it’s working?

David Brooks:

I think a bit. [However] I sort of think, though, just finally, that the norms, as Mark and I have been discussing, what Trump is doing to the culture and the political culture, is actually more of an issue and more of a vulnerability. And I wonder if Democrats would win over more swing voters if they focused on that, because there are a lot of pretty conservative people who think what’s happening to the country is pretty awful.

Judy Woodruff:

David, Mark brought up the Jamal Khashoggi disappearance a minute ago, the Saudi journalist.

We have been hearing about that now for several weeks. I think, just tonight, the Saudi government is saying they’re firing people, asking people to step down. They’re detaining others in all this.

We still don’t have a clear picture of what the Trump administration is going to do. How do you see — can the president walk a middle line here, at the one — on the one hand say, yes, it was a terrible thing, but we don’t want to — we don’t want to in a serious way change our relationship with the Saudis?

David Brooks:

Well, that’s what’s going to happen.

In the Middle East, people understand you go through periods where people have to pretend to be mad at you, and then they go back to normal affairs. And I suspect that’s what the Trump administration is going to do with Saudi Arabia.

To me, the prior problem is that whoever made the decision in Saudi Arabia to do this didn’t worry about Donald Trump, didn’t worry about America. And if the U.S. withdraws its normal role as the enforcer of some sort of international decency, then the people like Putin, the people like those in Saudi Arabia, the people like those in North Korea are just instinctively and almost unconsciously going to think, well, I can get away with this, and so you get actions like that.

So it’s almost the prior withdrawal of American power and standard-setting that seems to me the core problem.

And then, when you look at the Trump administration reaction, this happens every time they align themselves with a bad person, whether it’s Putin or this or another. The bad person does something bad, they try not to react because they like the bad person, and then public opinion drags them into some grudging, meaningless acknowledgement.

And that’s sort of the pattern here.

Judy Woodruff:

Does the administration, Mark, have to take a tough line, or can they get away with trying to walk a middle ground here?

Mark Shields:

I don’t think there is a middle ground.

But, I mean, Judy, Michael Hayden, the former CIA director under President Bush and then President — NSA director as well under President Obama, remained, made, I thought, just a penetrating observation.

He said, President Trump has close personal relations with three heads of state who have on their hands the murder of a citizen in another country, Kim Jong-un, Mr. Putin, and now the Saudi royal family.

And, I mean, I know if you — you’re accused of mudslinging if you quote the president, but I do want to quote the president. Some of his ardent supporters say he shouldn’t be quoted because he doesn’t always mean it.

But he has said that: “Am I supposed to dislike them?” speaking of the Saudis. “I like them very much. They make me rich. They make millions and hundreds of million. I make them — make them — a lot of money with them.”

And this is about his values. And these are now the United States’ values. I mean, that’s what he’s embodying. That’s what he represents. And I just think it’s absolutely terrifying for United States foreign policy and who we are and what we believe in the world.

Judy Woodruff:

Does this have long-lasting consequences, David?

David Brooks:

Well, we will see.

And I guess this is why I’m a little mystified that the Democrats are not going after this issue more, why they’re going after health care and other policy issues.

To me, this is the big issue of the election, that if — frankly, if Donald — if the Republicans keep the House and the Senate, then Donald Trump will feel unleashed. He will feel that this style of politics, this style of foreign policy, this definition of our moral order, has been totally vindicated by the American people.

And so, to me, that’s the core issue. How do we see ourselves as a country? What kind of country do we say? Are we strictly a money country? We sometimes look like that to outsiders. I don’t think that’s true.

But that is pretty much the ethos that Trump is embodying in a quite unembarrassed way.

Judy Woodruff:

Can Democrats do something? They haven’t…

Mark Shields:

Will Democrats do something?

Will — Democrats willing to stand up and say, this is a matter of national strength, national character, national identity, and national values?

I mean, when Pat Robertson becomes the moral theologian of the Republican Party and says, going out to Saudi Arabia for a journalist’s disappearance is not worth risking $100 billion worth of arm sales, does that tell you about moral leadership?

I mean, that’s really what — the proposition that has been presented by this president to the country.

And the Democrats, do they have the courage, the decency and the integrity to stand up? I mean, these are the people running a civil war in Yemen and murdering children by the thousands. And we have been essentially mute and supportive of that enterprise.

Judy Woodruff:

And, on that note, I’ll thank you both.

Migrant Hate Manifesto

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Trump’s Manifesto

Trump at an election rally on Friday in front of thousands of supporters in Arizona, CNBC reported:

“Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to criminals. I want to build a wall,” Trump told the crowd. “The Democrats don’t care that a flood of illegal immigration is going to bankrupt our country.”

More From CNBC:

 

  • President Donald Trump on Monday escalated his attacks on the caravan of migrants making their way to the United States from Honduras, calling the situation a national emergency and declaring without evidence that “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.”
  • “I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy,” the president wrote in the first of a series of posts on Twitter about the caravan, apparently misspelling the word “emergency.”
  • Trump also said that his administration would begin to cut off or reduce foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

 

Counterpoint

While since 1980 the size of the Central American immigrant population has grown nearly tenfold, it still represents only about 1 percent of the US population (3 million of 300 million). This is hardly a threat to our security or economic economic well being.

The following is taken from an article by The Migration Policy Institute. For details read the entire MPT article.

Over the past several years, Central American migration to the United States has been the focal point of significant media and public policy attention, as the number of unaccompanied children and families fleeing gang violence and poverty has risen dramatically. In 2015, approximately 3.4 million Central Americans resided in the United States, representing 8 percent of the 43.3 million U.S. immigrants. Eighty-five percent of Central Americans in the United States were from the Northern Triangle, formed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The region continues to suffer from poor political and socioeconomic conditions, including some of the world’s highest homicide rates and widespread gang violence, which drive ongoing migration. A growing number of unaccompanied children and families from Central America have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border since 2011, largely from the Northern Triangle. In fiscal year (FY) 2016 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted nearly 46,900 unaccompanied children and more than 70,400 family units from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras accounted for almost 90 percent of the total growth in the population since 1980. Other Central American groups showed more moderate increases over the past 35 years.

Click here for an interactive chart showing changes in the number of immigrants from Central America in the United States over time. Select individual countries from the dropdown menu.

For more facts about migration from Central America see The PEW Research Center – Hispanic Trends

Also From the Ethical Journalism Network see The Trump Card: How US news media dealt with a migrant hate manifesto.:

Trump’s anti-immigrant bombast defied normal journalistic fact-checking practices because it seemed to many to be deliberately, almost tauntingly devoid of any factual foundation. But as he repeated his charges on the campaign trail – and as they were then replayed hourly on television news – polls showed that many potential voters accepted them as established facts.

Trump’s Financial Ties With Saudis

Published / by Stephen

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Point

@realDonaldTrump Oct 16, 2018

For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!

Counterpoint

What Trump said during a presidential campaign rally in Alabama in August 2015:

“Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

At anther rally the same year:

“I make a lot of money from them. They buy all sorts of my stuff. All kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions and hundred of millions.”

Link to a video at a Trumps 2015 rally — boasting he makes lots of money selling things to the Saudis.

Reactions to the Sept 5 NYT Anonymous Editorial

Published / by Stephen

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Henry Matthews, New York: Comment on the NYT editorial

Why publish this? What purpose does it serve, other than to enrage its target and assuage the guilt of a collaborator? We have a mad king and a shadow government. This is a coup, not a heroic attempt to save democracy.

Barack Obama — a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday, September 7, 2018. Selected quotes from the full transcript — EDT Politics CBS News

It’s not conservative. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical. It’s a vision that says the protection of our power and those who back us is all that matters, even when it hurts the country.

These people aren’t elected. They’re not accountable. They’re not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that’s coming out of this White House and then saying, Don’t worry, we’re preventing the other 10 percent. That’s not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal.

Link to the anonymous editorial

 

Quote of The Week – Thank You Rudy The Confused

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Reported by The Guardian:  ‘Truth isn’t truth’: Giuliani trumps ‘alternative facts’ with new Orwellian outburst

When the definitive history of Donald Trump’s presidency comes to be written, many years hence, 11.02am on Sunday 19 August 2018 will surely be granted a special mention.

It was the moment when the phrase was coined that might be said to sum up the spirit of the Trump era: “Truth isn’t truth.”

The punch line:

Giuliani said: “When you tell me [Trump] should testify because he’s going to tell the truth so he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth.” … And then it came, like manna from heaven, the glorious mantra for which Trump’s White House has been waiting so long.

“No, it isn’t truth!” Giuliani roared. “Truth isn’t truth.”

Farewell statement from John McCain

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Published August 27, 2018

The following farewell statement from the late Sen. John McCain was read aloud Monday at a press conference in Phoenix, by his former campaign manager Rick Davis:

“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

“Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

“I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.

“I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

“‘Fellow Americans’ – that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

“We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

“Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still.

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

“Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.”

Why One Quarter’s Growth Tells Us Nothing

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A good econ growth comment by Krugman. 

For the most part, reporting on 2nd quarter growth has been pretty decent. But I haven’t seen clear explanations of why one quarter’s growth tells us so little about longer-term growth prospects.

…the economy’s actual output depends both on its capacity – the amount it is capable of producing on a sustained basis – and the rate at which it is using that capacity. That is,

Output = capacity * capacity utilization

So what is going on? What is our capacity and what is our capacity utilization? The long-term and short-term are very different. To understand the long-term growth prospects you must answer two questions:

  • Why does capacity utilization fluctuate?
  • What leads to growth of capacity?

The answer to the first question is fluctuations in demand. The answer to the second question is investment and how consumer demand and economic policy affect the level of investment.

The real news is that we’re still waiting for both the investment surge and the wage gains the tax cutters promised; as far as we can tell, they’re never coming.

 

Quote of The Week

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To: Sens. Jeff Flake, John McCain, Bob Corker and Susan Collins. From: Robert Reich

Senators, I write you not as a Democrat reaching out to Republicans, or as a former Cabinet member making a request of sitting senators. I write you as a patriotic American concerned about the peril now facing our democracy, asking you to exercise your power to defend it. A foreign power has attacked our democratic institutions and, according to American intelligence, continues to do so. Yet the president of the United States is unwilling to fully acknowledge this, or aggressively stop it. Most of your Republican colleagues in the Senate will not force his hand. As a result, because your party has control of the Senate, there is no effective check on the president — or on Vladimir Putin.

If just two of you changed parties — becoming independent and caucusing with the Democrats — the Republican Party would no longer have a majority in the Senate. The Senate would become a check on the president, as the framers of the Constitution envisioned it would be. And the president could be forced to defend the United States, as the framers intended. I implore you to do so.

Robert Reich